Saying Goodbye to the Reason I’m a Baseball Fan

The first time I ever heard of Ichiro was while eating breakfast with my family during a spring break trip to Seattle in 2001. My dad pointed out a boy sitting near us who was wearing an Ichiro jersey t-shirt. He explained Ichiro was a rookie who had just come over from Japan but hadn’t done so well in the previous night’s spring training game. I must have asked what his first name was because I remember my dad explaining the first-name-on-the-back thing and thinking that was weird.

We all know the 2001 Mariners went on to have a dream season, winning 116 games. The guy with his first name on his back won the AL MVP and Rookie of the Year awards. The Mariners were a big deal.

I don’t remember every detail of following that team, but I know I was in love with them. Dan Wilson, Bret Boone, Edgar, Mike Cameron, John Olerud – they were all the greatest. And Ichiro was the greatest of the greatest.

I could go on about my favorite memories of being a young Mariners fan, but more important than specific moments of that 2001 season is that the 2001 season happened in the first place. If the Mariners hadn’t been a big deal, or hadn’t had an exciting player, or not been broadcast on Portland-area TV and radio, I probably never would have become a big baseball fan. My dad’s love of the sport may have rubbed off on me, but I think there’s something about having a team distinctly “yours” that makes it easy to develop an obsession.

As the years wore on, the Mariners became pretty bad, and I didn’t follow the team as closely as I did in the early 2000s. But Ichiro was always there. Sure, Felix is exciting and the Cy Young was awesome, but that’s not the reason most people my age became Mariners fans in the first place.

Until today, Ichiro had been a Mariner longer than I’ve had my braces off. Longer than my family’s lived in the house I’d consider my childhood home. Longer than one of my siblings has even been alive.

This trade is obviously not the kind of life-altering event that shifts your whole world, but for me – and I’m guessing for many other Northwest natives my age – it’s surreal. I thought it would be weird to hear Mariners games without Dave Niehaus behind the microphone; it’ll be weirder to hear them without Ichiro in the lineup.

When news of the trade broke on Twitter this evening, no one knew how to react. There had been talk he wouldn’t stay a Mariner forever, but he’d been so constant in our lives as Seattle baseball fans it didn’t seem like he would actually leave. I wish him the best and I’ll root like crazy for him to get a World Series ring someday, but right now I’m sad that the one remaining constant of my life as a baseball fan is gone. At least he stayed longer than my braces.

Here We Go Again!

It’s been awhile since I last updated The Opinion Paige, but I’m resurrecting the blog for my Strategic Public Relations Communications class (also known as J452). If you’re new here, welcome! My name is Paige Landsem and I’m a junior at the University of Oregon studying public relations.

Before I neglected it, this blog focused on public relations, journalism, current events and sports. It was a jumble of thoughts, but now it’s going to be a more focused look at the intersection of sports and PR. I’d say those are my two favorite topics. There seems to be a never-ending stream of PR issues in sports, whether it’s an athlete doing some tremendous charity work in his community or getting in hot water for making a controversial comment.

You can't see the signature too well, but this is me with the baseball Trevor Hoffman (Major League Baseball's all-time saves leader) signed for me. My dad caught the ball during batting practice at a Brewers v. Indians game.

While sports and PR are my two favorite topics, baseball and college football are my two favorite sports. Growing up, I’d listen to broadcaster Dave Niehaus bring Seattle Mariners games to life. My dad and I make a point of visiting the nearest Major League ballpark whenever we’re in a new place, and I count my Trevor Hoffman autographed baseball as one of my most prized possessions.

My love for college football began about 18 months ago during the Oregon Ducks’ run to the 2010 Rose Bowl game. It only grew this past season, when we went to the BCS National Championship (and yes, I’m still a little bitter about the loss).

Since sports and PR news dominate my life, I’m excited to use this blog as an outlet to examine those topics and engage with fellow sports fans to gain insight from their points of view.